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Panthers hit road to tackle the Saxons

Fourth-ranked South Medford is facing its third road game in four weeks Friday at South Salem but took a good step forward last week against Willamette in terms of quality play beyond the usual cast of characters.

“Last week I was very happy with their effort,” said Panthers head coach Bill Singler. “Special teams, defense, offense … I thought we played really well in all three phases and we need to keep doing that because we’ve shown we can. There shouldn’t be a letdown because this team has worked too hard.”

South Salem (0-3) has faced a series of injuries at the quarterback position and utilized the services of three different QBs so far, leaving Friday’s starter as somewhat of a mystery.

Junior Elijah Enomoto-Haole was held out of last week’s 7-0 loss to West Albany, with sophomore Peyton Kreitzer getting the start before senior Andres Delgado took over. Enomoto-Haole is more of a passing threat, while Delgado is the Saxons’ leading all-around player with a team-best 234 yards rushing on 45 carries and 15 receptions for 142 yards.

Sophomore Collin Vogt has run for 140 yards on 16 carries, while senior Gavin Baughman has 10 catches for 125 yards and three TDs.

South Medford (2-1) will be minus the services of senior Kaleb Franklin, who injured his right knee last week, but the play of seniors Chase Cota and Jaalen Owens and junior Trent DeBoer should help senior QB Robbie Patterson keep rolling along in the passing game.

Patterson has completed 43 of 65 passes for 623 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Senior Jaylin Parnell (38 carries, 241 yards, four TDs) and junior Terrence Butler (21 carries, 176 yards, two TDs) give the Panthers a nice backfield tandem behind an offensive line that was utilized mostly reserves last week but didn’t miss a beat.

“Our offensive line, we certainly hope they haven’t gotten complacent since they went out and played well,” said Singler. “We want them to keep challenging themselves and get better. Whether you’re a starter or backup it doesn’t matter, our philosophy is next man up and we just want our guys to get a week better because our league season starts in earnest next week.”

THURSTON AT EAGLE POINT: Thurston brings a potent passing game to town to challenge an Eagle Point team that has progressively gotten better as players return from injury.

Senior QB Preston Fisher is experienced in the Colts’ system and has completed 58 of 94 passes for 909 yards, 10 TDs and four interceptions. The top receiving threats for Thurston (2-1, 1-0 MWL) have been J.J. Sargeant (20 catches, 385 yards, four TDs), Tyson Haas (nine catches, 243 yards, three TDs) and Ethan Powell (13 catches, 119 yards, one TD).

“It’s outrageous the talent they have on that team,” said EP head coach Seth Womack. “They have a receiving corps that looks like almost a small Division III college out there with the athletes they have. And their quarterback is good … they’re just all around good.”

The Eagles (2-1, 1-0) boast a balanced run game led by junior Noah Page (44 carries, 412 yards, three TDs) that amasses 246 yards per game.

SPRINGFIELD AT CRATER: Last week’s 21-20 loss to Marist ended on a sour note after a blocked point-after attempt in the final minute kept Crater from a shot at its first Midwestern League win.

The Comets (1-2, 0-1 MWL) have exhibited considerable promise with little to show for it on the scoreboard, but could use this week as a springboard under first-year head coach Randy Waite.

Senior Cade Weaver has proven to be a dual threat out of the backfield with 226 yards rushing to go with seven catches for 40 yards receiving.

Tony Flores and Gavin Acrey have boosted the run game, and Bailee Robles, Dylan Kinney and Jesse Fisher have been dependable targets for sophomore QB Trever Davis, who has completed 37 of 59 passes for 347 yards with six interceptions and four TDs.

ASHLAND AT MARIST: Scoring and overall offensive production have been hard to come by for Ashland, which is averaging around 191 yards of total offense and just under nine points per game.

The young Grizzlies (1-2, 0-1 MWL) will face another stiff test on the road in Marist (1-2, 1-0), which ran off 21 straight points in the second half to upend Crater last week. Quarterback Reow Jackson leads the Spartans, running for 143 yards and passing for 217 against the Comets.

Ashland’s DaMario Watson continues to shine in the backfield at 5.4 yards per carry to complement running mate Austin Harris, while senior Anthony Swanson stepped up with six catches for 79 yards last week to give sophomore QB Rieger Sayre another solid option at receiver.

— Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

DeBoer